The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is creating new ratings to evaluate vehicles with partial automation beginning this year.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit organization funded by car insurance companies.
It conducts a series of tests and rates vehicles based on safety. The tests are some of the best and most thorough, making them reliable.
Today, the IIHS announced that it’s creating a new set of ratings for vehicles with partial automation, such as Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving.
The new IIHS rating program tests safeguards when using partial automation
The new rating program will test the safeguards that ensure drivers stay focused on the road while using partial automation.
“Partial automation systems may make long drives seem like less of a burden, but there is no evidence that they make driving safer,” says IIHS President David Harkey. “In fact, the opposite may be the case if systems lack adequate safeguards.”
Like other IIHS tests, the safeguards can earn a good, acceptable, marginal, or poor rating.
A good rating, which is the best, requires the driver to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the steering wheel or be ready to grab it at any moment.
Additionally, the IIHS requires automakers to send alerts and emergency procedures when drivers aren’t following the requirements.
How a good partial automation IIHS rating works
For example, if Tesla wants a good rating and you’re using Tesla’s Autopilot feature, the IIHS requires that Tesla sends an alert to remind you to look at the road or return your hands to the wheel when you aren’t looking at the road or holding the steering wheel.
The alerts will quickly escalate if you don’t respond. The IIHS states that alerts can include sounds, vibrations, pulsing the brakes, or tugging the driver’s seat belt.
If you still aren’t responding, the system will slow your vehicle to a crawl or stop.
Then, the system will notify Tesla’s concierge, who may call emergency services.
If this occurs, you’ll be locked out of Autopilot for the rest of the drive. To reset it, you need to turn off the vehicle and restart it.
The IIHS will also require automated lane changes to be initiated or confirmed by the driver, ACC shouldn’t automatically resume if the driver isn’t looking at the road, and lane centering shouldn’t be switched off when the driver adjusts the wheel.
The bottom line
No current vehicle is fully self-driving. Tesla’s Autopilot, Volvo’s Pilot Assist, and GM’s Super Cruise are all forms of partial automation, which may one day become full automation.
The new IIHS ratings for safeguards are essential and much needed. It’ll keep drivers responsible and focused when using partial automation features.
Plus, it’ll help protect everyone else on the road.
Featured image courtesy of IIHS.
About David Em
David Em is the founder and editor-in-chief of EV Unleashed, the leading resource for unbiased electric vehicle news, reviews, and buyer’s guides.